1. Pastor’s thoughts:
Well, here we are starting March of 2012. As we hit each month, I wonder, “What is coming my way this month?” My mother reached 89 last month and has to be in a nursing home due to her health. For a while, every time my caller ID showed a call from Ohio, I feared it was bad news. But, thus far, I haven’t received that call. Since we hit 2012 I have had 2 calls from family and friends whose children are heading or have had a divorce. When I arrived at Rose Hill in 2010, I shared with you that I thought that Satan’s major thrust would be at families and their break up.
I have had some time to reflect on the disintegration of the family. I believe one of the major causes has been a lack of loyalty to the church. I want to share a part of a sermon I recently read by a Church of Christ Pastor, Dave Redick, who shares some interesting thoughts on loyalty:
In Edinburgh, Scotland, there is a statue of a small Scottish terrier. On the statue is a plaque that reads, “Back in 1858 the master of the two-year-old dog died. The little puppy followed the funeral procession to the final resting-place of his master. After everyone had gone and the grave had been covered, the little dog crawled to the foot of the grave as if to wait for his master’s return. The dog waited and waited through all kinds of weather and unbelievable ordeals. People would capture the dog and take him home, but he always escaped and returned to the foot of the grave of his master to continue his vigil. The dog waited until he died–a span of 14 years. “Loyalty is a rare commodity in today’s world. Employers deplore the lack of it in the workplace. Church leaders grieve its disappearance in churches, and its absence is a major cause of family problems and the diminishing number of long-term marriages. Clarence Francis, who was chairman of the board of General Foods Corporation, once said: “You can buy a man’s time; you can even buy a man’s physical presence at a given place; you can even buy a measured number of skilled muscular motions per hour or day. But you cannot buy enthusiasm; you cannot buy initiative; you cannot buy loyalty; you cannot buy devotion of hearts, minds and souls. You have to earn these things.”
I must say I agree with that assessment. It is the nature of loyalty. From time to time people have left the church here and go off to attend some church elsewhere. Usually, they do not announce their departure and, if asked, some superficial sounding reason is given. Some of you have come to me under such circumstances and asked, “Dave, aren’t you going to do something to get them to come back?” My answer has often been this: “What would you have me do? I’ve checked with them to see if they have something against any of us. Their answer was no. When I asked them why they were leaving, they sidestepped or gave a superficial answer. It is obvious they want to leave. Let them go.”
“Let them go?”You ask, “Just like that?” That’s right, let them go! Give them the liberty to walk. Why? Because what they lack is loyalty and loyalty cannot be demanded, coerced, or purchased. You can issue ultimatums, you can bark orders, you can pronounce condemnations all day long, but none of these things will produce loyalty in people who do not want to be loyal. They must be given the freedom to depart.
“Do they ever come back?” Often they don’t but that is the risk you must take. Once in awhile, though, such folks realize what they have left and return. At that point they usually commit to stay and you don’t have to constantly worry about them departing because now they are here by their choice.
This is precisely the reason why people with sporadic, non-job-related church attendance don’t listen when we exhort them about the importance of being in the assembly. They are not loyal to Christ or His church. They are loyal to themselves or something else.
This was the issue in John 6 when Jesus preached the Bread of Life sermon. People were following Him because of the food and the miracles. They were interested only in what they could get for themselves. When He spelled out the cost of discipleship, they left Him in droves. Then he turned to his twelve disciples and asked, “Will you go away, too?” In other words, He offered them the freedom to leave with no criticism. At that point they chose to stay with Him.
That is the nature of loyalty. It cannot exist without liberty – the freedom to walk.
Now what I also find interesting is that not only is loyalty not true loyalty if it doesn’t exist in the context of liberty, Liberty is also incomplete without loyalty.
This one is a bit harder to realize, but it is very true. Listen while I try to explain.
What those persons who refuse to be loyal to anything beside themselves usually do is drift. In their conceived “freedom,” they go carelessly from one thing to the next to the next. They studiously avoid commitment. They zealously guard their free time and their selfish interests. They form no bonds and no bonds are formed with them. They live for themselves and themselves alone.
That was precisely the case during Ruth and Naomi’s time. Look back at verse one of this chapter. It says, “Now it came about in the days when the judges governed…” What kind of days were those? Judges 21:25 tells us “everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”
You see, there were few commitments to the needs of others. People did only what they wanted to do – those things that gratified themselves.
“What’s wrong with that?” you ask. Well, when you live that way, with no bonds or commitments to anyone, no one bonds or commits to you. Yes, you can live that way for awhile and think you’re getting away with your selfishness. If you have good looks or a bit of money to throw around, people will even step in and make you feel like you’re doing just fine. But beauty and bucks are only temporary. So is good health. When your money and looks and your energy are gone, so will be the friends you mistakenly thought were loyal to you. You see it will ultimately catch up. One day you will have a need, and there will be no one around to care for you. One day you will be alone and no one will be there to notice. Uncommitted liberty seems great, but when it exists with no loyalties, it leads ultimately to loneliness and misery.
I’ve seen some prime examples of this. Some church member, who never gets involved in the life of the church, never commits to anything, suddenly lands in the hospital facing major surgery. No one comes to visit or show they care. Who do you suppose gets the blame? Why those heartless, uncaring people in the church, of course!
Don’t want to accept my reasoning here? That’s fine. If you are one of those who desire liberty without loyalty, you will. Sooner or later, you will. Sooner or later it will catch up with you. Mark my words. Remember this day when I warned you. It will happen.
You cannot have loyalty without liberty and you cannot have liberty without loyalty. Like Siamese twins, the two are inseparable.
May God help all of us exhibit the kind of lasting loyalty Ruth exemplifies here for us. May those of us still single take heed to the Word of God this morning, and seek out life-partners who love God with all their heart, soul and strength! And the corollary to that, of course, is to make sure that we ourselves love God with all our heart, soul, and strength.
May those of us here who are married be reminded of our vows that we made before God and our families and friends, and fulfill the promises we made, whether it was last month, last year, 20 years ago or 50 plus years!
May we be loyal to the Lord’s church, not easily shaken loose, not like the church hoppers and worship browsers of today who never make a commitment. The fondest desire I have for such people, if they will not repent, is that they move along – quickly – the sooner, the better. They do no one any good, including themselves and God.
May we be people of lasting loyalty.
After reading this sermon, I said, “Wow!” I wondered at the conclusion of that sermon if he asked his people if they still loved him! His words bit into my own soul and pointed out some areas in my life that I need to work on.
I think you can see the correlation between marriages, families and the church in regards to loyalty. My prayer to the Lord is a plea to help me be more loyal to Him, to my wife and to my church than I ever thought I could possibly be.
I wonder what would happen to our relationship with God, our marriages and our churches, if we would all take up the challenge of loyalty.
2. Something to think about:
In truth a family is what you make it. It is made strong, not by number of heads counted at the dinner table, but by the rituals you help family members create, by the memories you share, by the commitment of time, caring, and love you show to one another, and by the hopes for the future you have as individuals and as a unit.
3. Take time for a smile
A Sunday school teacher was telling her class the story of the Good Samaritan, in which a man was beaten, robbed and left for dead.
She described the situation in vivid detail so her students would catch the drama. Then she asked the class, “If you saw a person lying on the roadside all wounded and bleeding, what would you do?”
A thoughtful little girl broke the hushed silence. “I think I’d be sick.”
A mother shares, “Last week I took my children to a restaurant. My six-year-old son asked if he could say grace. As we bowed our heads he said, ‘God is good. God is great. Thank you for the food, and I would even thank you more if Mom gets us ice cream for dessert. And Liberty and justice for all! Amen!’”
Along with the laughter from the other customers nearby I heard a woman remark, “That’s what’s wrong with this country. Kids today don’t even know how to pray. Asking God for ice-cream! Why, I never!”
Hearing this, my son burst into tears and asked me, “Did I do it wrong? Is God mad at me?” As I held him and assured him that he had done a terrific job and God was certainly not mad at him, an elderly gentleman approached the table.
He winked at my son and said, “I happen to know that God thought that was a great prayer.” “Really?” my son asked. “Cross my heart,” the man replied. Then in a theatrical whisper he added (indicating the woman whose remark had started this whole thing), “Too bad she never asks God for ice cream. A little ice cream is good for the soul sometimes.”
Naturally, I bought my kids ice cream at the end of the meal. My son stared at his for a moment and then did something I will remember the rest of my life. He picked up his sundae and without a word, walked over and placed it in front of the woman;
With a big smile he told her, “Here, this is for you. Ice cream is good for the soul sometimes; and my soul is good already.”
A four year old was at the pediatrician for a check up. As the doctor looked down her ears with an otoscope (medical device to look inside people’s ears), he asked, “Do you think I’ll find Big Bird in here?” The little girl stayed silent. Next, the doctor took a tongue depressor and looked down her throat. He asked, “Do you think I’ll find the Cookie Monster down there?” Again, the little girl was silent. Then the doctor put a stethoscope to her chest. As he listened to her heart beat, he asked, “Do you think I’ll hear Barney in there?” “Oh, no!” the little girl replied. “Jesus is in my heart. Barney’s on my underpants.”
4. Nazarene and related websites:
Rose Hill Church of the Nazarene: www.rosehillnazarene.org
South Arkansas District: www.Southarkansas.org
Southern Nazarene University: www.snu.edu/home.asp
Bible Gateway: www.biblegateway.com
Focus on the Family: www.focusonthefamily.com
5. Rose Hill News
On Saturday, March 3rd, we will be celebrating Shelby and Cathy Gibbs’ 50th anniversary at the church at 2:00 P.M. The church has been invited to come and participate in this celebration.
Church board will meet on Wednesday, the 14th at 8:00 P.M.
Tribe of faith, small group meets on Mondays at 6:30 P.M. at the parsonage
Men’s prayer breakfast meets at the church on the third Saturday at 8:00 A.M.
The Choir has been rehearsing for our Easter cantata, “The Lamb of God.” Easter will be here before we know it.
We are also planning on a wonderful time of praise and worship on this coming Good Friday on April 6th at 7:00 P.M.
The District Women’s Retreat will be held on Saturday, March 31st, at Friendly Chapel Church of the Nazarene. Registration and cost is $15.00 and due on March 18th. See Pat Means for details
Rose Hill Birthdays include: Melissa Watson (16th), Laurie Skillern (19th), Charles Casey (23rd) and Norma Neukam (26th).
Rose Hill anniversaries include: Shelby & Cathy Gibbs (2nd), Larry & Sandy Furrer (15th) and Charles & Nancy Casey (21st).
Please let us know if we missed your birthday or anniversary or listed an incorrect date.
If you have a prospect for our church, please let the Pastor know.
Thanks for reading the Rose Hill Herald.
Pastor Steve Comeans
Rose Hill Church of the Nazarene
11001 Kanis Road
Little Rock, AR 72211